Gotham has been giving away an awful lot in the run up to the pilot episode next week, through almost-daily promo, tv spots, featurettes and a behind the scenes special. Now it looks like the villain for episode three has been revealed to Entertainment Weekly, if sources are to be believed.
According to Spoiler TV, the magazine's piece on the new show talks about the format, which presents a different "main villain" on an almost weekly basis;
The second episode, for example, takes on a child-snatching ring that targets street kids for overseas export, and the third introduces the Balloon Man, a killer who ties his victims to hundreds of balloons and sets them aloft. Says McKenzie, "The Crime is big and weird and eccentric and often has a lot of dark humour in it.
Wait, Balloon Man? Who the heck is Balloon Man?
Thus far, all the villains have either been created for the show (Fish Mooney) or are big names in the DC universe. Catwoman, Penguin, Riddler, Poison Ivy; these are names that we know and love, characters who have been brought to live-action before. But Balloon Man?
The only Balloon Man that I am aware of in the DC-verse is also known as Balloonatic, part of a very short story arc for the Metal Men. Essentially, he is a creature shaped like a parade balloon, aaaaand, well, that's about it. He has a few seconds of fame as terrorizing the city and as a robber, and then the Metal Men bring him down.
This would be a heckuva stretch for Gotham, and I seriously doubt that they will actually be taking this route. For one thing, it's just too far out there. The show is a gritty crime drama, with lots of realism. The villains are child-snatchers, mobsters, muggers; this is just too fantastic to fit.
A giant balloon man created by "smart gas" may be pushing it a little far, but what about an insane robber, also damaged or altered in some way by science, and with a fascination with balloons? It's definitely weird and eccentric, but why not? Or a man who makes (normal) parade balloons and then manages to use that to rob a bank? There's also an interesting moment with the original character using laughing gas as a poison and to aid in his escapes - that would be easily transferable to a villain.
It may even be possible for this to be a character inspired by that common fear of clowns; insane clown with a penchant for attaching people to balloons and letting them go? Of course, the issue with that is that it may be just a little too close to the Joker, but at the same time, we have been promised multiple "possible Jokers" and this could be another one of those.
It wouldn't be the first time that we see the Joker with a parade float and poisonous gas, after all. Although again, that strikes maybe just a little too close to home. Would a show that is trying to show us a new twist on the Batman mythology actually go so far as to basically copy an existing live-action Batman storyline?
It's definitely going to be interesting to see where the show is going with this name, and what they will be doing in the third episode. It seems like a huge leap, from mobsters and child kidnapping to a villain tying people to balloons, but maybe it's a very intentional one.
This could be the storyline that adds a much needed element of humor to an otherwise extremely gritty show, and that reminds the viewers that this may be mostly a cop show, but it's still about Gotham. This is still a city which will play host to some truly outlandish bad guys, and in some ways, it would be a shame if the show only saw completely believable villains throughout.